Six Totally Free Must-Have Productivity Apps for Entrepreneurs
There are well over 2,000,000 apps in the Google Play app store, and roughly the same amount on iTunes. Two million. You could easily lose three days worth of productivity just by searching for apps to help you be a more productive entrepreneur.
Ain’t nobody got time for that.
So to help you out in your quest for the perfect app collection, here are the must-have productivity apps I use on a daily basis to run my own business and keep my illusion of sanity. The best parts? These are all free to download, and they can all be accessed from your iPhone, Android phone, or web browser. That means if you’re in the middle of organizing your blog editorial calendar on Trello and get interrupted you can pick right back up on your phone. Seriously, as much as I want to go live in a cabin in the woods sometimes, it’s a beautiful time to be alive!
Some of these apps have a premium subscription available that gives you more features, but they’re all fully functional out of the box with no money needed. Pick the ones you think you need, use them for a while, then decide if the premium plan is right for you.
Full disclosure, I’m a fairly recent Trello user. But as soon I created my first board I realized what all the fuss was about. Now I have boards for my client projects, personal projects, blog posts, daily to-do lists, email templates, meal plans, workouts, and more. In fact, watch for some posts on using Trello to organize your business coming up in the next few months!
The deal with Trello is this - it’s super flexible, so you can basically do whatever you need with it. You have boards, lists, and cards. What you do with them is up to you. For instance, I have a board named 2017 Goals. Inside that board I have lists for each life area I’m setting goals in (Health & Body, Personal Development, Financial, etc). In those lists are cards (basically digital post-it notes) with goals on them. Inside the cards themselves you can create checklists, add due dates and labels, attach pictures, share them with other people, and more.
One place I see this being incredibly helpful for entrepreneurs is creating an editorial calendar, but the possibilities are basically endless.
Ahh, Toggl. This app was my answer to “Why are there no good FREE time trackers?!”. I used to use Harvest, and loved it, but it was more robust than I needed and I was tired of paying yet another monthly fee for a piece of software. Enter an extensive Google search and finally falling in love with the simplicity of Toggl.
Now, you should know that I don’t use this to it’s full capabilities at all. So if you’re looking for more options you should still check it out. They also have a premium version with more options, and it integrates with a ton of popular apps as well.
Since I rarely bill my clients hourly, unless it’s a maintenance situation and we’ve agreed on that ahead of time, I use Toggl to track how long I’m spending on different areas of the business. I track my client projects to have a better idea of how to set prices in the future. I also track time spent creating content, planning, and working on projects. I’ll get into the why of that later, but what I like about Toggl is that I can track from my web browser using a button, from my desktop using a downloaded app, or from my phone. I color code each type of work (Administrative, Client Projects, Product Creation) so that I can see at a glance how much of my time is going where. I also like seeing how much time I’ve invested in the business each week, and Toggl sends me a nice email with all the deets on that.
3. Google Drive
Odds are you already know about Google Drive, but just in case you’ve recently woken up from a decade long coma I’ll share it with you anyway. Next time I’ll introduce you to Facebook. It’ll change your life.
All jokes aside though, I’ve probably fallen in and out of love with Drive at least half a dozen times since it came out. In the past I’ve used it to create design questionnaires, contract templates, and budget spreadsheets, just to name a few. I’ve since found other options for a lot of those things, but I’ve recently realized how useful it can be for content creation and staying mobile while working on projects. I’m writing this post in a Google Doc inside a folder named Blog that sits on my Drive. I can access it from my phone or laptop, so if I get inspired to write while I’m away from my desk it’s a smooth transition. I also save my social media graphics here, to a different folder, so that I can quickly access them for Instagram or Facebook on my phone.
To get the most use out of Drive make sure you have the app installed on your computer and your phone so you can easily move files around.
I'm a graphic designer, not an accountant. For that reason, I love Wave. It’s a free accounting app that covers everything I need to do without all the confusing bloat of Quickbooks. Not only does it have a gorgeously clean interface, it tracks my bank accounts, helps me categorize transactions for tax time, has beautiful invoicing capabilities, deposits my payments directly into my bank account, and gives me more reports than I know what to do with. Basically everything I need my accounting app to do without all the extras. And it’s completely free.
You can also run payroll through Wave, download their phone apps to invoice on the go or upload photos of your receipts, or sign up for a premium plan with more services.
I like to read. A lot. I like learning new things, and with the abundance of great content out there it’s a struggle to get through checking my email without falling into a rabbit hole of articles on marketing, manifesting, and meal plans. My answer to that is to shove all the articles I want to read in my Pocket as quickly as possible so I can move on, then later when I have time I’ll sit down and read through them over a lovely cup of hot bean water.
There are a couple of reasons I love Pocket. First, they clean up my articles and take away the distractions. There are two views to choose from when reading an article inside the Pocket app - one that has no ads, no photos, and no distractions. Just nice typography. It’s a wonderful thing. The second thing I love about them is how easy they make it for me to use their app. I have it installed on my laptop and phone, and when I want to save an article from inside my email I just right click and save. I can share a Facebook article with my Pocket app and find it there later. They even have a Chrome extension so all you have to do is hit a button. This is great because the faster I can get an article off my screen, the less chance I have of losing productive time to it.
Didn’t expect to find a meditation app here, didja? I know. It feels counterproductive to stop and sit quietly when you have a Trello list a mile long of projects to work on, but that’s exactly when you need it the most. Sitting quietly gives your mind a chance to make new connections, be inspired, and see the next steps more clearly. It can actually do amazing things to boost your creativity.
I started using Calm a couple of months ago after asking for meditation app recommendations on Facebook and sifting through the responses. Calm was a clear winner for me, partly for the sheer number of available meditations (I’m still working through the free ones and planning to upgrade to a paid subscription soon) and partly because of the quality of the recordings and tone of the guide’s voice. It’s upped my inner peace game 100%, I make it a point now to meditate for at least 10 minutes a day, and I'm working towards sitting quietly for longer periods at a time. Also, the sleep stories are like having a nice lady read you a bedtime story, and I don’t know who wouldn’t like that.